"Beaufort County’s Rural and Critical Land Preservation Program has an amazing story to tell. The Rural and Critical Land Preservation Program began in 1999, after the creation and adoption of the first Beaufort County Comprehensive Plan. The Program is an innovative way to encourage growth by protecting the most critical land and maintaining rural land for farming or as buffers to important areas. Our community has realized both direct and indirect benefits as a result of this program.
In 2002, the first $40 million bond referendum to fund land purchases was passed with tremendous support. Four additional referenda followed over the next 17 years, including the 2018 referendum for $25 million to fund land purchases and park improvements. The five referenda have been overwhelmingly supported by the citizens of Beaufort County with the 2018 referendum approval at 70%. By January 1, 2019, the Program had completed 114 land protection projects, preserving in total 23,926 acres through fee simple purchase (79) and conservation easements (35).
How the Program Protects Land
Land may be acquired by direct purchase of property, or by purchase or donation of development rights, which often allows property owners and families to remain on the land and continue its use for farming, hunting, fishing, or other historic purposes. A conservation easement, which forever protects the land from development, may also be negotiated.
The Beaufort County Open Land Trust (BCOLT), manages the Rural and Critical Lands Program on behalf of Beaufort County with the help of a volunteer advisory board. BCOLT is South Carolina’s oldest land trust and has been working to protect land in Beaufort County since 1971."
"Preserving valuable open space land in Douglas County often involves a collaboration of many strategies. Among these are the various land protection tools and techniques, intricate partnerships, dedication and hard work of staff and our advisory board"
Additionally, the Brightman Thomas Greenspace Initiative Report includes a system of criteria on page 11 that could be used as part of a GIS-driven process to identify land for permanent protection.